If you are coming off of your draft and are looking to bulk up your depth or plan on streaming tight ends, you have come to the right spot. We are taking a look at the waiver wire and free agent pool before all the chaos begins. After the first four-five tight ends in the rankings, there is a steep dropoff in production. If you do not have one of those top tight ends, shopping based on volume and matchup will be key for the rest of the season. There will be no FAAB recommendations this week just due to I don’t believe in spending any sort of money on this position before Week 1.
Week 1 TE Waiver Wire Pickups
Chris Herndon – New York Jets
Well if you didn’t go back to the well for Chris Herndon in the draft or have sworn him off altogether, I don’t blame you. Herndon is 24 years old and is a freak athlete out of the University of Miami. In 2018 he finished with a 39-502-4 line. He had 52 targets, and this is his rookie season. Most of this production came after the first five weeks. The connection with Sam Darnold is there, Adam Gase just needs to get him on the field.
2019 was a struggle for him with the suspension, injury issues, and lack of game time. He is the best tight end on the roster and the Jets pass-catching options are a bit thin heading into the season with injuries. Herndon has a top ten schedule for tight ends. A lot of this is going to come down to Adam Gase putting him in a spot to succeed. Gase’s track record for doing just that is not strong. However, an early pick up there is no risk here because if Herndon doesn’t make it in 2020, you didn’t give up anything.
Jack Doyle – Indianapolis Colts
For the first few weeks, Indianapolis will be without Trey Burton. He was getting hyped up which caused me to worry about Doyle’s usage. Doyle is better suited for PPR leagues because he does rely a bit on receptions. Doyle doesn’t have that skill set to be a downfield threat, but he fits into the mold Philip Rivers likes to throw to. Indy does have a lot of mouths to feed and outside of Hilton there is not a sure thing within this offense for consistent volume.
Over the first few weeks, I am more in line to see how things play out with Doyle now that Burton is ruled out. The schedule before the bye week, Minnesota is the only defense that was stout against tight ends. New York will fall off, and Doyle has a plus matchup against Jacksonville. Cleveland, and Cincinnati. He has a good schedule before the bye to be useful before Burton returns to potentially cut into the workload.
Eric Ebron – Pittsburgh Steelers
Eric Ebron is coming off a down 2019 where he struggled to factor into the Colts offense. That was coming off a career season which had everyone hyped up for Ebron in 2019. Still just 27 years old, the former 10th overall pick has not quite lived up to the hype. He now finds himself in Pittsburgh with an offense that has been able to produce plenty of passing opportunities. Ebron will have to share it with three talented wide receivers and that is the concern.
For me, Ebron is simply worth a look if you are looking for an upside guy. In 2018 Vance McDonald was able to finish as TE12 on 55 targets and McDonald isn’t quite the athlete Ebron is. The 50-60 target range is certainly in the works for Ebron. He opens up the schedule with only one tough matchup against Baltimore before the bye week. This is a very favorable schedule for Ebron.
Dallas Goedert – Philadelphia Eagles
While Jalen Reagor and Alshon Jeffery will be back at some point from their injuries, the depth is still rather weak in Philly. Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz I expect to soak up plenty of targets while they deal with injuries. Goedert has a very solid schedule ahead of him. He is going to be a name to at least keep an eye on because he would be a league-winning tight end if Ertz ever went down, but the wide receiver depth continues to put him in play regardless.
Goedert is coming off a 58-607-5 season, where he had 87 targets. These are very high numbers for technically a TE2 on the team, but Doug Pederson will use two tight ends and fill the hole left behind of the injured receivers. Goedert finished tied for second in red-zone targets last season and was second in overall targets.
Jonnu Smith – Tennessee Titans
Jonnu Smith has been waiting in line for a starting job as Delanie Walker had been in the way since he was drafted. Now Smith will be the starting tight end and is in a sneaky good offense now with Ryan Tannehill under center and a very good ground game. There are not a lot of competitors for target, as AJ Brown will lead the team, and then it is a mix of Corey Davis and Adam Humphries.
Smith was able to put up 9.9 yards per target last season and he had a 79% catch rate. The snaps went up to over 80% in the final six games of the 2019 season. He is geared to be the starting guy and is a breakout threat now heading on year four.
Irv Smith Jr. – Minnesota Vikings
There have been a lot of positive reports for Irv Smith in terms of playing time and seeing more snaps. Smith has talked about being lined outside as well as the Vikings running two tight end sets. Smith competes with Kyle Rudolph, who only had 48 targets to Smith’s 47 last season. Smith went onto post a 36-311-2 line. Most tight ends have a slow start to their career and Smith is an athletic tight end who is just 22.
The schedule for Smith is a huge plus and you have to consider Diggs leaving behind 90+ targets. This is major because the wide receiver depth is very thin. The matchups each week are extremely solid as he won’t face a top tier defense against tight ends.
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